Get Your Culinary Week in Shape With Austin's Meal Prep Club
Club Home Made's veggie-sitters club
Ada Broussard and Becky Hume created Club Home Made because they wanted to make weeknight cooking just a little more fun. "The idea for Club Home Made naturally grew out of meal prepping with our CSA [Community Supported Agriculture] boxes," said Hume, a Johnson's Backyard Garden alum who knows her way around produce better than most.
"Ada and I both cook most of our meals at home all week, and we would often have friends join us in cutting up veggies and sharing some of our farm abundance," Hume added. "Our friends kept saying how fun it was to do meal prep together and how just having veggies ready to cook made a huge difference in how they ate and felt through the week. Eventually Ada and I started thinking about ways to scale up out of our home kitchens and offer this communal meal prep option to a wider community." And thus, Club Home Made was born.
Essentially a meal prep club, every other Monday night CHM hosts gatherings (currently at East Austin Culinary Studio around 6:30pm) designed to teach attendees what to do with that bounty of produce, and save time for the week ahead. They source, you prep, they demo a recipe, and you leave with four servings worth of meals, already prepped and with a plan to prepare. Upcoming demos include StirFry Club (Teen Edition), Curry Club, and Quiche Club plus salad/coleslaw. Each class is available individually.
For Hume and Broussard, farming and cooking go hand in hand. Both women grew into culinary adulthood working and cooking on farms, and Broussard has even started a farm of her own, which she hopes to use to supply ingredients to CHM members. Working behind the scenes has given them both a deeper appreciation for how intuitive seasonal eating can be when you're attuned to the rhythms of the land.
"A big part of the joy of eating seasonally is all the anticipation for certain crops," said Broussard. "Then having a glut of them and making many different dishes with those ingredients until we're almost sick of them. But then something else is in season, and we are looking forward to the next round of recipes and flavors."
With summer in full swing, the gals are looking forward to a bounty of tomatoes, melons, and cucumbers that they'll be teaching CHM members how to cook in hundreds of different ways during the months to come. Part cooking class, part CSA, with a little bit of old-fashioned collaborative barn-raising spirit thrown in, Club Home Made is designed to make cooking seasonally accessible to even the least culinarily inclined Austinite. "I'm so excited to hopefully empower some new cooks in this town," said Broussard. "There's a huge demographic of folks who end up relying on lots of take-out, meal kits, and restaurants to feed themselves, but cooking simple and healthy meals at home is just as convenient! We hope to help people feel prepared and practiced at cooking simple, seasonal, and nutritious food for themselves at home."
"This is meant to be everyday cooking," Hume agreed. "Cooking is a life skill!"
They're so passionate about inclusivity that they've just opened CHM gatherings to teens (under 16 accompanied by an adult), so young people can build culinary skills before getting cast from the nest into the world of college dining halls and endless ramen.
In general, the duo aims to create a friendly atmosphere for vegetal exploration. "Our mission is really trying to make cooking and eating seasonal vegetables more accessible," said Hume. "Often there are crops that thrive in the Texas climate that are readily available at the farmers' market, that folks may not be as familiar with cooking at home." Part of this mission, Broussard adds, is helping people become more comfortable using substitution to keep their kitchens as local as possible. "Celery is hard to grow in Central Texas," she said. "But bok choy or chard stems make a wonderful substitute. Our goal is to empower folks to do what our grandmas have already done ... throw a pinch of this, a pinch of that, and throw together simple and delicious food with the ingredients that are readily available without an exact recipe."
But Hume and Broussard hope that the regular gatherings will teach participants lessons beyond what to do with their annual tomato haul. "Club Home Made's aim is really just to make eating and cooking seasonally accessible to everyone and we want to cultivate community around that," said Broussard.
"For both of us, this is a passion project. Food is at the intersection of how we relate to ourselves, our community, and the earth. Our aim is to bring our joy for eating locally and share it with a wider community, making it accessible both from a time and money perspective, and supporting folks as they work towards their own cooking and eating goals. Plus, our gatherings are fun! It's awesome to be able to get ready for the week with other people, have a drink, and listen to some good tunes while doing it."
For more info on the subscription and schedule, see www.clubhomemade.net.